Formerly from Leigh-on-Sea, we both commuted to the City for far too long on the 'Misery Line' (C2C) to our jobs in IT.
We couldn't have a more contrasting lifestyle now we're here in Poitou Charentes. We've overcome most of the teething troubles associated with any such major upheaval, and our two daughters are also now well and truly settled here - of course, both speak fluent French.
It takes quite a while to adjust to the rural lifestyle, and I think it's actually taken us this long to really understand the way life works here. People are very practical and life is governed largely by the weather and the calendar, since this is a predominantly farming region. It's really quiet, and uncomplicated - the simple life! Difficult to appreciate during one short holiday, but worth sampling, nevertheless!
You can make your holiday an action-packed experience, or else you can just relax and look around the local towns and villages, and perhaps take in a brocante or a weekly market.
In a beautiful Maison de Maitre in the neighbouring village, an english couple have started up a marvellous restaurant and music venue. 'The Mad Hatters' is building a strong reputation for high quality, reasonably priced fare in an idyllic setting - not to be missed.